Food and drink will be high on the agenda for Newry, Mourne and Down District Council as it plans to spend £20,000 putting together an “authentic range of events and initiatives” to celebrate the best the area has to offer.
These are expected to include celebrating local produce – as well as crafts beers and gins which are now produced within the district.
The enterprise, regeneration and tourism committee – meeting on Monday – will be asked to approve the expenditure.
A report to committee explains the thinking: “Culinary tourism has seen unprecedented growth in many destinations as visitors seek to connect with local cultures, and the tourism industry responds with a recognition that locals foods are a way of portraying the essence of place.
“Tourism NI designated 2016 as the NI Year of Food and Drink. Following on from the success built in this year, a new All-Ireland initiative has been launched – ‘Taste the Island’ – which will profile food and drink experiences throughout Ireland between September and November over the next three years.
“The event is designed to provide visitors with access to authentic food and drink, high quality local ingredients and world class experiences.”
It says that Newry, Mourne and Down is “well placed to benefit” given the increasing range of authentic local produce and locally-produced craft beers and gin.
The council now plans to work in partnership with the local food and drinks industry to “help showcase memorable food experiences”.
These would include guided urban and rural food and drink tours; make it yourself events – including events in cookery schools and “unique and authentic destinations”; meet the maker initiatives – working with the industry to provide visits to local producers, brewers and distilleries.
There would also be festivals and events which will “include specific food and drink events throughout the region and the opportunity to link with other activities such as landscape, heritage etc”.
Taste of place ideas include working with restaurants, cafes and mobile vendors in the area to showcase local produce.
The council plans a “comprehensive programme of activity” over the course of a year with a budget of up to £20,000.
The plan is to begin the initiative in September, subject to committee agreement – and subsequent ratification by full council early in July.